Cavendish Select Board Meeting/Hearing 5/11/15

Select board (SB) meetings are recorded by LPC-TV and are available at their website and on Comcast Television.  Written minutes are available at the town’s website.  Monday night’s meeting included the following:

 A. Depot Street Bridge: VTrans Accelerated Bridge Program was in attendance to explain the various alternatives explored for Town Highway Bridget #58, also known as the Depot Street Bridge in Proctorsville. Because the bridge is in such poor shape, the recommendation is that the entire bridge be replaced with a single span bride using Accelerated Bridge Construction with an offsite detour. Payment for the replacement would be 80% federal, 15% state and 5 % town funds. Of the options explored, this was by far the cheapest and the quickest way to take care of the problem.

 A number of people from Depot Street were in attendance to express their concerns. While the majority would like to see the bridge closed permanently, they realize this is not an option and therefore asked the Select Board and VTrans to consider making Depot Street one way, going from 131 to 103. Because this is a town highway bridge, VTrans stated that the town can decide if they want it one way, what the esthetics would be (a covered bridge is not an option), how wide, and whether they would like two walking paths, one path or another configuration.

 VTrans said that the bridge is inspected every year in May. Last year, the bridge received a rating of 4 (poor) on a 1-9 scale, which helps to fast track it for replacement. However, Jess and Craig Goodman, whose property abuts the bridge shared pictures they had just taken, showing a 10 foot hole in the bridge footing that has occurred in the last several weeks. Further, they reported hearing parts of the bridge falling off and landing in the river. Based on this new information, VTrans will ask for an inspection as soon as possible.

 If the bridge receives a rating of 3 or lower from this new inspection, it’s possible the bridge will be immediately closed. Even with the accelerated approach, replacement will most likely not take place until summer 2018. However, in order to keep the bridge open, some temporary repairs may be needed.

 A video of the presentation will be available soon at the Accelerated Bridge website

 B. Connectivity: At the last SB meeting, it was agreed that Comcast would be invited to the meeting. Rich Svec, town manager, said he had other priorities and didn’t have time to contact them.

 C. Presentation by Fletcher Farm Foundation and Black River Health Center: Both organizations are currently tax exempt but SB member Wendy Regier wanted to know more about these programs and community involvement. Steve Birge presented for Fletcher Farm. He explained that the buildings on the Cavendish property side are used as follows: Stepping Stones Preschool, Okemo Hospitality, Two Rivers Supervisory Union and a program facility for HCRS, which has congregate and supervised housing for up to 10. Also available on the property is the Craft and arts school, which gives Cavendish residents half off of workshops. There is also a community garden as well as hiking trails and athletic fields. The rent from Okemo is used to help offset building repairs and maintenance, which significantly exceeds rental income. Many community groups, such as Black River Good Neighbor, take advantage of the facilities and use them for a variety of purposes. Rents are low and if organizations have trouble making payments, the Foundation makes accommodations.

 George Timko spoke about the Black River Health Center. For a history of the building and how it was once used as part of a Rural Health Initiative in the 1970s and 80s, go to the Cavendish Historical Society’s post History of the Black River Health Center BuildingThe current building is primarily being used for social workers with a 60% occupancy.

 Regier thought there should be some town policies around what is viewed as acceptable for tax exemption. Other members of the board stated that determining tax exemption was up to the voters and not the SB and the only policy necessary was already in place.

 D. Energy Committee: The Cavendish Solar Array is working well. Svec discussed the possibility of an extension on the town’s existing interim loan for another year, which has an interest rate of less than 1%, in order to lower the principal. This would help to reduce over all costs on the 20 year bond note, which will have an interest rate of 3.3-3.4%. Svec said he didn’t have final figures and information, but would bring it to the board at the June SB meeting.

 Peter LaBelle provided information about the Solarize Makes Sense program, which hopes to double the number of homes with solar (current number of homes is 8). The kick off of this program will take place on June 6

 E. Davis Rd Bridge: Construction continues. Expected completion date is mid summer, but Svec thinks it will be sooner.

 F. VELCO: At a joint meeting of the Planning Commission and SB, held the previous week, representatives from VELCO explained that the Connecticut River Valley Project would rebuild a 15-mile transmission line connecting the Coolidge substation in Ludlow and Cavendish to the Ascutney substation in Weathersfield. For Cavendish, they will not be adding a new line but rather providing upgrades. Pole height will be a bit higher and so it will be more feasible in certain parts of town. Other than regular trimming of trees to prevent line interference, no major clearing is planned and in fact, when completed, it will look pretty much as it does today. For more information about this project, contact Shana Louiselle at or call 802-770-6381

 G. Transfer Station: Expect to see some changes at the transfer station including- Better signage, a metal bin that is situated so you can drive up to unload, and changes in tipping fees. By adjusting fees, the goal is to make the transfer station pay for itself as well as encourage people to recycle everything they possibly can. Further, the transfer station is to be paid for by those who use it and not taxpayers. It was noted that there will be a composting workshop on Thursday evening as the next phase of Vermont’s Universal Recycling and Composting Law requires that by 2017, all food scraps must be composted. Also note that the law requires that all leaf and yard debris be diverted from the landfill by 2015. If you have questions about Cavendish’s transfer policy, contact the town office 226-7292.

 H. Assistant to Town Manager Position: Svec said that he had seven serious applications for the position and will be making a selection in the next few days. While the job description is still being developed, the new hire will be responsible for a number of projects including cemeteries and transfer station.

 I. Other Projects:

• Svec will be applying for a structural grant to replace the culvert at Greenbush and Stevens.

• The water heater at the town office has been replaced with an electric hot water on demand system. This should save costs as well as reduce space. Grating is needed for the back roads now that mud season is over.

• Woodie Woods is acting as sexton. Bids for mowing in the two largest cemeteries are being obtained.

ª Dan Rose will be mowing for the town this summer.